Notable People of Wrentham
As part of Wrentham’s 350th anniversary celebration in 2023, the committee planning next year’s events has asked residents to submit memories of significant people in the town’s history. Following is a submission the anniversary committee shared with Local Town Pages.
David G. Binney,
King Philip Class of 1958
David Binney might have reached the height of his career, when in November of 1989, he was appointed Assistant Director of the FBI. It was the realization of a goal that Dave had set for himself years ago and the result of steadfast dedication and determination.
There was little in those early years to indicate that Dave Binney was destined to achieve the success that he did. The family moved to Park Street in Wrentham when he was about eight years old, and Dave entered the second grade at the Vogel School. He was the second oldest in a large family, eight boys and four girls, in which competition was an everyday event, and where sports were a vital component in the life of each one of them. It wasn’t until high school, though, and Dave’s senior year at King Philip High School (his was the first graduating class from the new regional high school), that we began to glimpse his potential. Gaining a reputation as a fierce opponent, Dave would be a four-year starter on both the basketball and baseball teams, selected as co-captain for both in his senior year.
He may have inherited this drive from his grandfather, Henry M. Binney, himself a semi-pro baseball player and boxer in his youth. His intensity, especially on the golf course, would have a profound impact on Dave and his brothers who often caddied for him. Henry would distinguish himself as Wrentham Town Moderator and was a key figure in town politics for over 20 years.
West Point, 1964
After graduation from King Philip, Dave set his sights on the West Point Military Academy. A year of study at Columbia Prep would lead to a coveted appointment from the then-Senator from Massachusetts, John F Kennedy. It would, however, be JFK’s last appointment and in that fateful assassination year of 1963, Dave was invited to join the Kennedy family at JFK’s funeral ceremonies.
Upon graduation from West Point in 1964, with the Vietnam conflict in its infancy, Dave was assigned as an artillery officer, tasked initially with training recruits for deployment to Vietnam. He would later be thrown into the thick of the war, and in March of 1966, in a battle with the Viet Cong in the Iron Triangle, his actions would result in his receiving both the Bronze Star for Bravery and the Army Commendation Medal.
During his tour, Dave would be instrumental in the formation of the Lightning Ambush Academy, whose objective was preparing the newly arrived recruits for survival in this challenging war setting. The success of the school invited the famous newscaster, Walter Cronkite, to broadcast a segment on this innovative and lifesaving tactical approach to the war.
After completing his military commitment, Dave fulfilled his long-imagined ambition of becoming an FBI agent and he would go on to serve in a number of locations over the next few years, honing his skills as an investigator and administrator. His promotion to the New York office, though, would thrust him into the world of organized crime and the use of every skill he possessed. In March 1985, the country was captivated by news that Federal indictments had been served against all of the major New York Mafia crime bosses, including those representing the notorious Columbo and Genovese families. The culmination of the investigation--six dedicated years in the making--was also a pivotal moment in the career of FBI agent David Binney, who had guided this relentless effort from its earliest days. The case, often referred to as the “Pizza Connection,” also focused a spotlight on two associates of Dave, prosecution attorneys who would later achieve fame and notoriety in their respective positions: Rudy Giuliani as Mayor of New York and Louis Freeh as Director of the FBI.
Dave was next assigned as Agent in Charge of the St. Louis Field Office. While Dave would say that St. Louis was a relatively less stressful post, mortal danger in law enforcement is always a possibility, and it was while attempting to arrest a wanted fugitive that Dave would be involved in and survive a deadly shootout.
His next transfer was to the Washington Metropolitan Field Office, and later at the FBI headquarters, to head the Criminal Division. His efforts here, particularly in gang warfare and narcotics, would result in his ultimate promotion to Assistant Director of the FBI, reuniting him, once again, with Louis Freeh, soon to be appointed Director of the FBI.
In 1994, after four years as an Assistant Director, Dave retired from the FBI, joining IBM, the computer services giant, with responsibility for World Wide Security. There were benefits--the Olympics in Soporo, Japan and Sydney, Australia--but years of high stress had begun to take their toll. He retired from IBM in 2004, settling in Charleston SC, and a long-deserved respite.
It was from here, in 2008, that he was to return to Wrentham for his 50th high school reunion, eager to see old classmates again. It was not to be, though, for the night before his departure, Dave suffered a fatal heart seizure. He would be returned to West Point, where some 44 years previously, he had begun his journey. He was interred in the West Point cemetery with full military honors, his life celebrated at ceremonies attended by his many relatives and a multitude of his lifelong friends and colleagues.
Submitted by Dave Binney’s long-time friend, Al Smith (aka Coach Smith)